Connecticut Lt. Governor Sullivan's Reforms Constitute $34 Million on State Mental Health Without Accountability

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Advocates question Connecticut Lt.Governor Sullivan's proposal of $34 million on mental health.

Lt. Gov. Kevin Sullivan’s recent press release “Sullivan Unveils Mental Health Reform Package” has raised more than a few eyebrows across the state from children right advocates, as well as from victims of mental health abuse. Sullivan proposes to spend a whopping $34 Million on mental health in a one-year period alone. This money would be spent on additional services and programs without addressing the need for reforms in many areas of the current mental health system. This added funding for areas that have not proven themselves successful should be viewed critically and be cause for great public concern.

To give observers an inside view of the current system and its expenditures, they need only look at the many departments offering mental health services to the public.

Currently the State’s Department of Social Services has operating expenses of just under $200 million. This department carries program expenses, many of which are mental health based, of over $3.5 billion per year. The Connecticut Department of Children and Family Services both have operating expenses at over ½ a billion dollars per year. This spending is taking place without any accountability. Lack of accountability is two-fold, comprising of the State’s own failure to hold the department heads, as well as the many vendors of mental health services and programs accountable for justifying the need for the mental health programs/services that they are using and or soliciting. Furthermore the State is failing to hold all those providing mental health programs/services to the highest standards, by not requiring them to provide comprehensive reports demonstrating their success rates.

To spend additional money on any mental health services without seeing a track record for programs and or services already offered within the State should alarm all Connecticut taxpayers.

Ablechild, a national grassroots parent organization, with members in Connecticut advocating for both children and parental rights, had the opportunity to attend and testify at one of Lt. Governor Sullivan’s town hall meetings http://www.ablechild.org/testimony/state_of_connecticut_hearings.htm.

Ablechild was eager to share its concerns regarding the protection of human rights and the critical need for expanding mental health services beyond that of psychiatry, asking for the State to consider advocates and vendors employing non-drug and non-invasive programs/services for parents and children throughout the state. Alarmingly this town hall meeting consisted mostly of current mental health vendors asking for more money. What was obvious was that there was little evidence of success in their current programs with a basic lack of both new ideas and different types of strategies that might turn an obvious failed approach around.

“Lack of accountability is a big part of mental health and is a huge problem right now. The public should be aware and informed of all mental health programs being offered by the State. This would entail a disclosure of whether or not a program or service is successful or not.

The fact that we are allowing what is equivalent to frivolous spending on programs that have not been proven successful should not be allowed to continue,” said Ms. Sheila Matthews, National Vice President of Ablechild and a Connecticut resident concerned with informed consent and the right to privacy. Ms. Matthews has advocated in Connecticut on behalf of victims of mental health abuse, many of whom have come to Ablechild for help in regards to mental health services forced upon them by State agencies and vendors receiving state mental health funds.

The question that should be raised from all of this is: When do we say enough is enough? Are we going to allow this ridiculous amount of spending without accountability to continue? Or are we going to put our foot down and hold those responsible, for truly providing us with higher standards? Accountability and honesty is what all citizens and residents of Connecticut should be demanding from the State. Anything less is simply not enough.

To read more on mental health and current abuse within mental health, please go to http://www.ablechild.org.

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Patricia Weathers